• Trump Calls Castro a "Brutal Dictator"
• Trump's Conflicts of Interest Have Already Emerged
• Flynn Has Some Serious Baggage
• Falwell, Jr. Declined Cabinet Appointment
• Kirsten Gillibrand Is Already Exploring a 2020 Run
• The Reviews Are in on Trump's Ornament
President-elect Donald Trump has called Jill Stein's push for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania a "scam." Stein filed for a recount in Wisconsin on Friday, just hours before the deadline, and she has the funds required, so the recount will start there soon. Hillary Clinton's campaign didn't ask for the recount in Wisconsin, but since it has been formally set in motion by Stein, she is going to join it. Of the three states, Michigan is the closest, with only 0.2% separating Trump and Clinton. With only 10,000 votes between the two, it is conceivable, but very unlikely, that Clinton could come out on top. In Wisconsin, Trump's margin was 0.8% and 22,000 votes. It will be almost impossible for Clinton to overcome that. In Pennsylvania, Trump's margin was 1.1% and 70,000 votes, an insurmountable barrier. (V)
Yesterday, Donald Trump called the late Fidel Castro a "brutal dictator." The election is over (except for some recounts) and Castro is dead, but the big question now is what happens to U.S. policy toward Cuba. The little question is how it will affect U.S. politics. Cuban-Americans in Florida have been staunch Republicans for decades, hoping that the U.S. would do something—anything—to get rid of Fidel Castro. Now that he is gone, what happens to U.S.-Cuban relations is largely up to Donald Trump. If Trump continues current U.S. policy on Cuba, it could help cement Cuban-Americans to the Republican Party for years to come. But if he decides what Cuba really needs is a fancy Trump hotel to draw American tourists to the island in order to give its economy a shot in the arm, all bets are off. (V)
It is expected that Donald Trump's many businesses are going to create an endless web of conflicts of interest during his presidency. The first ones have already shown up. To start, it turns out that Trump owns stock in the company that is building the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline. As president, he can decide if the project goes through or is killed, and that decision will have a significant effect on the value of his stock in the company. While much of Trump's wealth is in the form of a small number of very expensive and difficult to sell buildings, some of it is in the form of more liquid investments, like stock in various companies. It would be relatively easy for him to create a blind trust and put all his stocks and bonds in the trust, giving an independent trustee orders to liquidate them all and make new investments without telling him what they are. Other presidents have done this, but Trump has refused to put any of his assets into a blind trust, even the ones that are easy to sell.
It doesn't stop there, however. Although The Donald is ostensibly very busy with his transition, he nonetheless took time for a meeting with his Indian business partners Sagar Chordia, Atul Chordia and Kalpesh Mehta. Trump has five projects underway in India, and reportedly wanted an update on their progress. So much for letting the kids run the business. Similarly, during a congratulatory phone call from Argentine President Mauricio Macri, Trump apparently asked his counterpart to look into permitting issues that are holding up a construction project in Buenos Aires.
Then, there is the matter of Trump's newly opened Washington, D.C. hotel, which has been struggling to compete with more established five-star options in the nation's capital. In an effort to drum up interest, Trump held a champagne reception last week for over 100 high-ranking foreign diplomats. The message was obvious: "When you need extra lodging in D.C., you should book with Trump." The message was definitely received. "Why wouldn't I stay at his hotel blocks from the White House, so I can tell the new president, 'I love your new hotel'!" said one attendee from Asia. "Isn't it rude to come to his city and say, 'I am staying at your competitor'?"
If Trump is behaving in this manner when he knows that everyone is watching and that suspicions about his intentions are already high, it seems improbable that he will rein it in once he's actually in the White House. The real question is whether the media will be able to cover his indiscretions without being accused of having an ax to grind. (V & Z)
Nearly all of Donald Trump's early picks for positions within his administration have infuriated Democrats. One of the most worrisome for the blue team is Michael Flynn, a hawkish sort who is overtly Islamophobic, for National Security Advisor. As an article from The New Yorker's Dana Priest reminds us, he's got some serious black marks on his record.
To start with, there are some pretty significant personality issues. Although generally well-liked by his colleagues, Flynn has a very bad temper, tends to change priorities on a whim, and has a habit of inventing "facts" out of whole cloth. That may sound familiar, but there's a difference between winning an election and passing muster with the U.S. Senate. Most significantly, Flynn makes a point of ignoring rules that he finds "stupid." So, for example, he set up a private computer and Internet connection in his Pentagon office, even when he was told it was against the rules. He also shared classified information with NATO allies that he thought that they should have, even though he was explicitly ordered not to do so. If those two offenses ring a bell, they should, because those are almost exactly the same crimes that Hillary Clinton was accused of committing. Well, except that she may have allowed classified information to fall into the hands of those who should not have it, while Flynn definitely and knowingly gave out such information. As we and others have pointed out ad infinitum this election season, intent is the bright, red line between breaking the law and not breaking the law, and Flynn definitely had intent. For example, Jonathan Pollard served nearly 30 years for sharing classified information with Israel, a country that—while not a member of NATO—is one of America's closest allies. Flynn, by contrast, was given only a warning.
The National Security Advisor does not require confirmation, but it is not impossible that Trump will feel some serious pressure within the GOP to reconsider his choice. Some Republicans may object to Flynn's actual record. Others may decide they don't like the optics of calling for Hillary Clinton's head, and then turning around and supporting a National Security Adviser who was guilty of the same (and worse). Then again, they may see no incongruity there—after all, one of the loudest voices calling for Clinton to be indicted was...Michael Flynn. (Z)
Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of evangelical Christian institution Liberty University, revealed on Saturday that he was Donald Trump's original pick for Secretary of Education. The offer was turned down because Trump wanted a six-year commitment, and Falwell was unwilling to go beyond two.
In the nineteenth century, cabinet posts were overtly used to settle expenses after election victories. This was a source of much frustration to the presidents of that era; Benjamin Harrison, for example, lamented that, "I could not name my own cabinet. They had sold every cabinet position to pay for the election." After the advent of civil service reform in the Progressive Era, these sorts of quid pro quo arrangements became less common and less overt, but it seems clear that they have now made their return. Education was obviously earmarked for the evangelicals; when Falwell said no, Betsy DeVos (whose school voucher-advocacy will make it easier to teach creationism in schools) was in. It seems apropos that a candidate reminiscent of Andrew Jackson in so many ways should bring back Jackson-style patronage. (Z)
The president-elect is more than 7 weeks from being inaugurated and already the 2020 race is quietly in full swing. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is busy calling Hillary Clinton's big donors to politely inquire about funding her in 2020. If she runs, she will have to duke it out with another high-powered New Yorker, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) who, unlike his father, is not hesitating at all. He is definitely interested. The field might be very large though, so the two New Yorkers won't have it to themselves. Kanye West has also threatened to run. After all, 100% of all presidential candidates whose wives have posed nude have been elected. (V)
As we noted earlier this week, Donald Trump is selling a "Make America Great Again" Christmas ornament to his devoted followers. Made of brass with gold detailing, it retails for the bargain price of $149.00 (before shipping). In addition to being available on the Trump website, the ornament is also listed on Amazon, where people can leave reviews. This has allowed for a little bit of subtle protest. Some of the highlights, for your reading enjoyment:
- My tree turned ORANGE! Was this thing made in Jina?
- Despite ordering a more reasonable ornament, this one arrived. It. Is. Yuge.
It's absolutely yuge. It's the biggest ornament. Yuge. I hung it on my tree, but
it is so yuge that it has totally unbalanced my whole tree. No matter where I
hang it, the tree leans waaaaaay over to the far right.
- Came with an entire crate of white hood ornaments. Great bargain! Downside:
My tree is now on fire.
- Its small size makes it easy for tiny hands to handle.
- My office puts up a tree every year and we pool resources to get a really
nice ornament, usually on the pricey side. For example, 8 years ago we got a
really nice, hand crafted ornament from Hawaii. We liked it so much, we decided
to get another one just like it 4 years later. Well, this year we all got
together and chose a sedate, classy ornament from a shop in New York. My New
York friends swore by their work and so we voted and chose it. But then this red
and gold POS showed up in the mail and we can't figure out why!
- The only Christmas ornament that will try to deport your nativity scene.
- This ornament appeared on my tree, against my own choice, and now my tree is
very aggressive towards my wife.
- It's a 4 at best; I like ornaments that are a 10.
- Looks red in the picture... showed up orange though. Extremely
- I tried to put this on my tree, but it demanded to stay in its own tree and
says I have to pay $1.5 million a year to keep it there.
- I didn't order this! So I tried to return it, but Amazon said I couldn't since it was a gift from an unlisted Russian address.
About 90% of the reviews are in this vein; while about 10% are positive; it's also probable that almost none of the reviewers actually bought the item. Perhaps we are looking at the future of measuring approval ratings. (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov26 Trump Will Soon Get the Nuke 101 Tutorial
Nov26 The Presidency as a Profit Center
Nov26 Christian Leaders Now Expect Trump to Deliver
Nov26 Democrats May Get a Chance to Rebuild in the Next Two Years
Nov26 Four Sites to Break Out of the Liberal Bubble
Nov26 New Mexico Business Tells Trump Supporters to Get Lost
Nov25 Russian Propaganda Machine Was Indeed Behind Fake News
Nov25 Kris Kobach Is Favored to Head Dept. of Homeland Security
Nov25 Trump Has Attended Only Two Intelligence Briefings
Nov25 Stein Raises Enough Money for a Recount in Wisconsin
Nov25 Trump's Cabinet Likely to Be the Wealthiest Ever
Nov25 Trump Supporters Furious About Romney
Nov25 Get an Early Start on Your Christmas Shopping
Nov25 Can the Democrats Win the White Working Class Without Destroying Themselves?
Nov25 North Carolina Gubernatorial Race Gets Increasingly Bizarre
Nov24 Trump Picks Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education
Nov24 Ross, Carson May Soon Join Cabinet
Nov24 Obama May Prefer Perez as DNC Chairman
Nov24 Clinton's Lead in the Popular Vote Passes the Two-Million Vote Mark
Nov24 Jill Stein Wants a Recount in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania
Nov24 Trump Delivers Thanksgiving Message
Nov24 Trump to Accept Corporate Donations for Inauguration
Nov23 Trump Says the President Can't Have a Conflict of Interest
Nov23 Court Strikes Back Against Gerrymandering
Nov23 Democratic Electors Might Sabotage the Electoral College
Nov23 Clinton Pushed to Challenge Election Results
Nov23 Democrats Are Not the Minority
Nov23 Trump Drops Idea of Prosecuting Clinton
Nov23 Trump Foundation Admitted to Illegal Self Dealing
Nov23 Haley to Be U.N. Ambassador
Nov23 Carson Says Trump Has Offered Him Jobs
Nov23 Trump Rally Drives Stock Market to New High
Nov22 Can the Democrats Become a National Party Again?
Nov22 Why Clinton Lost Wisconsin
Nov22 Trump Lays Out Day One Plan
Nov22 Trump Apparently Warming to Ryan's Medicare Plan
Nov22 Trump's Grandfather Was Deported--to the United States
Nov22 Tulsi Gabbard Vows to Work with Trump
Nov22 Dean Calls Bannon a Nazi
Nov21 Why Are We Surprised about the Presidential Race?
Nov21 Ellison's Opponents for DNC Chairman Start Fighting Back
Nov21 Warning to Democrats: Focus on Issues
Nov21 Trump's Infrastructure Plan Meets Congress
Nov21 How Trump's Tax Plan Worked in Kansas
Nov21 Trump Apparently No Fan of the First Amendment
Nov21 Pence Has His Own E-mail Problem
Nov21 Not Everyone Disapproves of Bannon
Nov21 Marine Le Pen Takes Huge Lead in France
Nov21 Programming Note